As a youngster, pop-up campers are the ones I remember the most. Camping in McCall, Idaho in our little tent, I was always envious of those campers who would drive in with their cute little pop-up trailers. Little did I know then how iconic those pop-up campers were and still are, especially the original Coleman Pop-Up campers. Unfortunately, Coleman was sold to a division of Fleetwood and that division has folded (no pun intended) so Coleman pop-ups are no longer manufactured.
However, if a pop-up camper is in your dreams, don’t despair as there are still trailer manufacturers that make very capable pop-up campers. In this buying guide, we’ll go over the various types of pop up campers, how to select one that meets your needs, price range, and specifications on a few models. So let’s begin.
What are Pop-Up Campers?
Let’s begin with a somewhat clear definition of what pop-up campers are. A pop-up is basically a lightweight travel trailer that has sides that collapse or fold for storage. The experience that pop-up provides is a combination of open-air tent camping with the comforts, basic convenience, and protection from the elements that are typically found in an RV or travel trailer.
Types of Pop-Up Campers
You are going to find 3 types of pop up campers: the tent trailer pop-up, soft-top, and the A-frame pop-up.
Tent Trailer – This is typically the standard type of pop-up trailer and comes with a solid roof system and the box or frame the opens upward and outwards. You’ll find once extended that you get roughly double the size of it’s folded dimensions.
Soft-top Tent Trailer – This type is somewhat lighter than the hard-top pop-ups since this type of camper have a soft fabric top instead of a solid roof.
A-Frame – They are named like that because they look like a little A-frame cabin. These pop-up campers are some of the easier ones to set-up but you do give up some living space for that convenience.
Pop-Up Campers; Why Buy One?
Price – So now that you know a bit about these types of camping trailers, why on earth would anyone want to buy one when there are bigger and more comfortable ones out there? Let’s begin with the most obvious reason and that is price. For most folks, buying a big travel trailer is not in their budget or for some, it’s not an expense they want to incur. That’s where a pop-up tent trailer comes in since they are very reasonably priced and often thousands of dollars less than a typical travel trailer. Used ones in very good condition can be had for less than $5,000.00. So for the budget-minded person, a pop-up is a great choice.
Sleeping Comfort – Granted, you are not going to sleep in luxury but you will be ten times better off than sleeping on the ground. Pop-up camper mattresses do not compare to what you may find at home but they do offer some comfort and surely beats the cold hard ground. Here’s a tip: the mattress platform is open to the air underneath (typically storage space) add a space blanket underneath each mattress so you can stay warm.
Smell That Fresh Air – Due to the mesh that is used along the sides, there is better air-flow with a pop-up camper. You don’t have the closed-in feeling you would typically feel in a tent. For those that might be a bit claustrophobic, the pop-up is a better choice than a tent.
What’s Inside – Depends on the model, every bit can be as basic as a sink and small stove or as fancy as a fridge, shower, toilet, and air-conditioning unit. The higher end model do seem to pack quite a bit in a small space.
Where Do It Fits My Stuff – Everyone has to bring stuff when they go camping and pop-up campers usually have enough storage space for all of your needs. When more space is needed, you can purchase an optional trailer that has additional space, even enough space to carry some of your outdoor toys, including ATVs.
Towing and Driving – One of the best advantages of pop-up tent trailers is their weight. Usually less than 2,800 pounds, they can be towed by many cars, SUVs, and even minivans. Because pop-up have a low profile, they are also easy to drive since you are not going to be buffeted by the wind as much as you would in a full-size travel trailer. As a bonus, you’ll also save on gas.
The Making of a Pop-up Tent Trailer
If you would like to see what goes into making a pop-up camper, check out this video from Jayco.
Pop-up tent trailers are a great way to get your family into the travel trailer and outdoor lifestyle without breaking the bank. With the many models available, you are sure to find one that meets your needs and those of your family. Best of luck with your pop-up trailer hunting and I hope you will enjoy your outdoor lifestyle.
Pop-Up Camper Resources
Since there is a huge interest in pop-up campers, I thought I would list below some resources for those contemplating buying a pop-up or already have a pop-up camper.
Pop Up Camper Blogs
The Pop Up Princess – Excellent blog, constantly updated with lots of great pop-up camper information.
Pop Up Explorer – A little bit of everything, hasn’t been updated with new articles in a while but the information that is on there is good.
Pop Up Camper History – Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the history of pop-ups.
How to Renovate a Pop Up Trailer for Under $100. Excellent article. Click here to read more.
Pop-Up Campers—Renovation On A Budget – I love this article. Excellent budget-friendly ideas on renovating a pop up camper. Read more
Video of a Pop-Up Camper’s Modification: See Below